Silbury Hill, Britain's Pyramid?

Driving along the A4 in Wiltshire, in southern England, one sights Silbury Hill looming up beside the road like the cone of a volcano. However, this is not a volcano, nor is it an iron age hill fort, so common all over England. It is the largest man-made hill from pre-historic Europe. It's purpose is, frankly, unknown. Silbury Hill dates from approximately 2,400 B.C. (the largest of the Great Pyramids of Egypt, built for the Pharaoh Khufu dates to around 2530 B.C.), and is 40 metres high. It is situated in that mystic area of southern England that was used for sacred rituals by the peoples of pre-historic Britain. The great Avebury stone circle is within walking distance and Stonehenge is close by. Ancient burial mounds, tumuli and barrows abound, like warts on the landscape.

Silbury Hill towers over the A4 main road, itself following the line of an earlier Roman road.
The hill was built in three stages. The first hill was 120 feet (36 metres) in diameter and consisted of turf, gravel and chalk. The next was double that size and a ditch 20 feet (6 metres) deep was dug around the outside to provide material. Still the diggers weren't happy. The final phase was truly a feat of engineering. A massive 30 foot (9 metres) deep ditch was now dug and the mound raised to it's present 40 metres high.

However, the hill wasn't just piled up. Terraces were made (now believed to spiral round the hill) to prevent the hill collapsing. Chalk retaining bulkheads were built for the same purpose, being filled up with loose chalk.The whole hill was covered in gleaming white chalk. It must have lit up like a beacon to all those that saw it.

What it was used or built for is a mystery. But like the pyramids of Egypt, it must have fulfilled some human need to build large objects that reach to the sky, maybe to the Gods. For though it has a round base rather than a square one and was made of chalk, not stone, it must surely be considered in the same class as the Pyramids, not only in Egypt but in the Americas and Asia.

Not much is known about it after it was built. The Romans used it to lay out a road to Bath in the west. The Saxons used it as a fort.

A mineshaft was constructed at the top in 1776, no doubt with the lure of hidden treasure - nothing was found, not even archaelogical treasure. Archaelogists dug shafts into the side of the mound in 1968-70. Important information was aquired but no treasure or bodies which might indicate that this was a burial mound. And so Silbury Hill remains an enigma.

From a distance, (near the East Kennet long barrow), the hill still looks impressive. Imagine what it would have looked like covered in gleaming white chalk. The hill from the viewing area. Climbing the hill is not allowed, but on the top may be seen a team who are making the old mineshaft safe.

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